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Posted: February 5, 2012 12:00 a.m.

Tips to planning an affordable Super Bowl party

Just because the economy is bad doesn’t mean your social life has to be. 

An estimated 173 million people will be watching the Super Bowl today, and I bet you’ll be hosting your fair share of football celebrations. Polls show that folks like to make a real event out of the game, and Super Bowl Sunday sees more parties than any other holiday in America. 

When you think about the estimated 1.25 billion chicken wings; 14,500 tons of chips; and 4,000 tons of popcorn being consumed today, it’s enough to make you want to tell your friends to just go ahead and stay on home. However, before you pack away the grill and extra chairs, let me share a few money saving strategies to use when hosting the hoards of football fanatics plus those moochers just in it for the chicken wings and commercials.

Potlucks aren’t just for church suppers anymore! When you’re planning what to serve, be sure to spread the menu over as many guests as possible, so no one person has the burden of feeding the crowd. Encourage guests to make what they want while guiding them towards what you need to fill out the menu. No one wants ten trays of deviled eggs and no wings, right?

Know how much folks will eat! As the host, you’ll want to provide something substantial to the menu — a main dish or hearty appetizer. Whatever you choose to serve, be sure to follow these guidelines for determining portions per guest. If you are looking at serving a green salad, plan on one cup per person. With cold salads like potato or slaw, plan for one half cup. For cooked vegetables (including corn, baked beans, etc.) plan for one half cup and for meat, plan on 3 to 4 ounces per person. Bread is usually one piece per person. Remember, while eating is a big part of the Super Bowl Party experience, you aren’t the only one providing the food. Overestimating the amount of food to prepare means overspending, too. 

BYOB isn’t just for frat parties anymore! Most folks plan on bringing their beer to a party. It’s just common practice these days. Be sure to have a couple of coolers for people to tuck their beverages away once they arrive. BYOB isn’t just limited to alcohol though. Ask friends to bring a two liter of cola. As the host, you can make up a few gallons of sweet tea. Sweet tea doesn’t cost much and we Southerners would keep it on tap if we could.

Shop at discount stores! As the host you’ll be expected to provide plates, cups, napkins and cutlery. You can skip the party store for disposable paper products and stick with discount stores where you’ll pay a fraction of the cost. You can find serving dishes and tablecloths as well. 

Think outside the bag when it comes to chips! If you’re serving tortilla chips with any of those delicious party dips, stop by your local Mexican restaurant and ask for a large bag or a full can depending on how big your crowd is. You’ll save a ton of money while getting restaurant quality chips everyone loves to eat.

Do it yourself! Be sure not to fall for the trap of premade or prepackaged convenience foods. Just like with anything, homemade tastes better and your guests will appreciate your efforts. It costs next to nothing to make soft pretzels from scratch and I don’t think I even need to sing the praises of homemade chicken wings, do I?

Plan ahead! It might be too late for this year’s Super Bowl party, but next year (or your next party for that matter), you can be a step ahead of the game by matching coupons with sales ads to get party items for a fraction of the cost. Treat coupons like money. A coupon alone doesn’t cut it. Use a coupon on an item that is on sale and you’ll see some real savings. This is how I shop for almost everything my family eats and parties are no exception.

You could be a football fanatic. You might be a fair weather fan. Or you could be like me, a girl who thinks the Super Bowl is a good excuse for a party. If you use the tips above, you can focus on what’s important. I’m not talking about the Patriots or the Giants here. I’m talking about food, friends and fun! Full disclosure: I had to Google who was playing today. 

 

Beth McAfee-Hallman lives in Covington and can be emailed at mamabee@onefabulousmama.com. 

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